Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Potato Bliss.

A friend once said that he hadn’t yet met a potato he didn’t like (you know who you are.) I feel the same way myself – with the exception of the sort of mashed potatoes that manage in one and the same mouthful to be watery/gluey/gritty/crunchy. I live in terror that the low-carb fashion presages the extinction of the potato. I feel the need to start a Potato Fan Club, or a Save the Potato Campaign. The very least I should do is pay attention to the Fun with Potatoes archive, and bring it over to this blog from the defunct Companion Site.

It was all very different in WW II. The specially created ‘Potato Pete’ character promoted himself as an energy food, a protective food and a good soup-maker. He was also used in bread, to eke out precious wheat. The Ministry of Food’s Food Facts Leaflet No. 29 (February 1941) focused on the potato – and, listen to this and weep with nostalgia, you potato lovers! - the Ministry recommended potatoes THREE TIMES A DAY.

"Potatoes help to protect you from illness. Potatoes give you warmth and energy. Potatoes are cheap and home-produced. So why stop at serving them once a day? Have them twice, or even three times – for breakfast, dinner, and supper."

To remind you of the reasons to eat potatoes (including the patriotic), the leaflet provided this jingle:

P’s for Protection Potatoes afford’
O for the Ounces of Energy stored;
T’s for Tasty, and Vitamin rich in;
A’s for the Art to be learned in the kitchen;
T’s for the Transport we need not demand;
O’s for Old England’s Own Food from the land;
E’s for the Energy eaten by you;
S’s for the Spuds that will carry us through.

Potatoes are indeed nutritious. What we do to them often destroys the good stuff in potatoes and adds a whole lot more of the bad stuff. An average-sized baked potato is about 150 gm. Naked except for its own skin, it is virtually fat-free (and you cant say that about any naked human) contains about the same protein as half a glass of milk, the same amount of potassium as a banana, almost half the daily requirement of Vitamin C, and goodly amounts of lots of other vitamins and minerals. All this in return for about 26 gms of of carbohydrate (only 1 gm of which is in the form of sugars), lots of bowel-friendly fibre, and a total of 110 calories. Sounds like a good set of trade-offs to me.

A couple of weeks ago I gave you the recipe for Potato Coffee Scones from this leaflet. Today, to assist you to eat potatoes three times a day, I give you this recipe – adaptable to any meal as it points out, and I am sure would adapt well to other fillings. Maybe finger food for your next party? At least they are not deep-fried.

Surprise Potato Balls.
Cook 1 lb. potatoes and beat well with a fork. Add a large grated carrot, 1 teaspoonful chopped parsley and some salt and pepper. Use a little milk, if necessary, to bind the mixture, but do not make it wet. Form into balls. Make a hole in eat, drop in a small teaspoonful of sweet pickle, and close the hole. Roll the balls in browned breadcrumbs, place on a greased baking sheet. Bake in a moderate oven for 15 to 20 minutes. These are good for any and every meal.

Quotation for the Day …

Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food,
For wisdom and guidance, for all these are good,
but don't forget the potatoes.
John Tyler Pettee, 'Prayer and Potatoes'


Chris Anthony said...

Like your friend, I've never met a potato I didn't like - especially an untreated baked potato. (I adore the anecdote from The Joy of Cooking about the young housewife who called her grocer, having read of potatoes baked "in their jackets", to complain that she couldn't find potato jackets.)

These recipes look great, and I can't wait to try them out. Thanks for sharing!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Chris; these recipes do seem very do-able, dont they? I like the potato surprise idea.

Sarah said...

I just came across your blog today while looking for some clarity on the origins of the Lady Baltimore Cake for a paper I am writing. I am a doctoral student in English studying nineteenth century foodways and food representation, and I will absolutely be back to this blog! I love your inclusion of literature and old recipes, and your research is inspiring. Thank you for your writing--I will enjoy reading through past posts!

srhcb said...

I can think of many interesting fillings for the potato balls, both savory and sweet.

Rachel said...

One of my favourite ways to eat potatoes is in a sandwich. Cook the potato (whole) in the microwave with the skin on, once cooked, slice, put on fresh bread (white tastes better) with lots of butter. Yummy.

Liz + Louka said...

Your quote for today reminds me of the lines from Heinrich Heine's Germany: A Winter's Tale:

Not only does earth grow bread enough
To feed mankind with ease,
But roses and myrtles, beauty and joy,
And (in the season) peas.

Yes, sweet green peas for everyone
As soon as the pods will burst.
Heaven we'll leave to the angels, and
The sparrows, who had it first.

This is my favourite translation, by TJ Reed.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello everyone - I dont know what it is about potatoes (well I do, really) that guarantees comments.
Sarah - I am happy you have found this blog, and hope you continue to visit and enjoy.
shrcb - you are right, a sweet filling would work too. I have a recipe somewhere for coconut ice made with potato.
Rachel. You speak to many of us, especially on the butter.
Liz. I can rely on you for a good commnent. You really should start your own blog you know, it would be good!

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

What's the surprise in the potato balls? Maybe I missed it.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Scott - the surprise is the pickle-filled centre. 'Surprise' dishes used to be very popular about this time - and were usually something 'stuffed'.

SometimesKate said...

I can think of lots of things I'd love to hide inside mashed potato, but sweet pickle isn't one of them.

By "sweet pickle", do they mean a hunk of sweet pickle, or a spoonful of sweet relish?

I'm thinking a hunk of frozen cheese, or perhaps frozen herb butter as sort of a fake ala Kiev would be interesting, though.

The Old Foodie said...

Hello SometimesKate; I agree about the cheese, or butter. Your comment about sweet pickle vs relish indicates the division of our two countries by their common language however! In this context, the book being Engliah, I think it would translate to your 'relish'.